Posts Tagged ‘Jon Stewart’

Based on his movies, you may have been surprised by how intelligent and engaging Russell Brand is when discussing various issues on TV. While he is certainly more aggressive than Jon Stewart (although Stewart can be aggressive, too), Brand’s web series The Trews suggests that he would be a worthy successor when Stewart leaves The Daily Show later this year. Despite the fact that Brand seems to spend most shows talking about current events from his bed (fitting?) he has the ability to interject his humorous takes on serious issues between clips from various news shows. In the episode below, he discusses recent murders in Chapel Hill, NC and Copenhagen in the context of the broader cultural scripts regarding Muslims and terrorism. I’d watch a Daily Show with Russell Brand.

“Like” Memoirs of a SLACer on Facebook to receive updates and links about replacing Jon Stewart via your news feed.

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In case you hadn’t heard (in which case, you may be a student), the government shut down last night at midnight. Republican demands to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare) because they don’t like it, despite the fact that it was passed in the house and the senate, signed by the President, and withstood challenges in the Supreme Court, reminds me of when a kid who loses a game takes his ball and goes home because if he can’t win he would rather not play at all. After thinking of this earlier today and congratulating myself for being clever, I watched last night’s episode of The Daily Show and noticed that Jon Stewart said essentially the same thing.

Slate has a nice roundup of stories about the shutdown, including an article written in the style that we would likely use if it was occurring in another country. I also like this collection of wire photos used to depict the impending shutdown (Slate is not immune to these tactics – see the photo on the aforementioned article).

Over on the blogs, John Quiggin at Crooked Timber reposts an analysis from 2011 and Dan Hirschman talks about the plight of graduate students who need to use the National Archives (as does Tenured Radical).

Finally, Jimmy Kimmel demonstrates the importance of survey wording by asking people whether they prefer the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare without informing them that they are the same thing:

This is all so exciting that I can’t wait to do it again in a few weeks when the debt limit is reached! On another note, my “Government Inaction” category has never been so apt!

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Muslims have a history of causing Americans to think about race. Following his pilgrimage to Mecca, Malcolm X wrote a letter to the members of his organization back in New York in which he talked about the impact of seeing white Muslims. He said, in part:

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world.  They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blondes to black-skinned Africans.  But we were all participating in the same ritual, displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and non-white.

America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem.  Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white – but the white attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam.  I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespective of their color.

You may be shocked by these words coming from me.  But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions.  This was not too difficult for me.  Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it.  I have always kept an open mind, which is necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept on the same rug – while praying to the same God – with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white.  And in the words and in the deeds of the white Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) – because their belief in one God had removed the white from their minds, the white from their behavior, and the white from their attitude.

Following the bombing in Boston and the death and capture of the two suspects, Americans have again been shocked to discover that there are white Muslims. As Edward Wyckoff Williams wrote at The Root:

“a blatant display of Islamophobic rhetoric and racial profiling became a benchmark of many reports, proving what some had already suspected — that xenophobia and racially tinged, anti-Muslim sentiment have become tacitly accepted byproducts of post-Sept. 11 American society. Most disturbing was that these attitudes were readily articulated by standard-bearers of credible news outlets, whose profession it is to disseminate “facts” without bias.”

(Of course, “credible” news outlets can handle things pretty poorly, as Jon Stewart pointed out.) Later, he states:

[T]he Tsarnaev brothers offer a much-needed challenge to America’s antiquated ideologies on race. Hailing from Dagestan and Chechnya, nation states of the former Soviet Republic in the Caucasus region, the Tsarnaevs are quite literally “Caucasian” — and, by any racial trajectory, are simply considered “white.”

Salon’s Joan Walsh pointed out how some conservative news sites have claimed that the brothers’ Chechen heritage makes them “nonwhite.” Ironically, Walsh notes, the same logic was used with respect to Italian, Irish, Jewish and Eastern European immigrants in the 19th and 20th centuries. Over time, and with assimilation — including the collective oppression of African Americans — “whiteness” became more loosely defined.

Indeed, a story at The Onion highlighted Americans’ lack of knowledge about world geography while highlighting our anti-Muslim sentiment. That the associated stereotypes could be applied, however, to those who are white seems to be hard for many to accept, which makes it ideal for class discussions about the social construction of race.

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Given the typical lack of exciting news in a 24-hour period, I can understand the intense pressure placed on 24-hour news channels to get the scoop on the truly big stories when they come along. If they can be seen as the most reliable source for news during times of legitimate excitement, after all, maybe more people will watch them the rest of the time. So channels are competing with each other but they are also competing with other forms of media that cover breaking news, such as blogs. I suspect that both of these things played a role in yesterday’s embarrassing initial coverage by Fox News and CNN of the Supreme Court’s decision on the Affordable Care Act. Memoirs of a SLACer correspondent Jon Stewart has the full story here. I especially like the fact that Fox News corrected their story after noting that the reports at scotusblog.com contradicted their own. Way to bring it full-circle, Fox!

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Appearing on Crossfire in 2004, Jon Stewart argued that the show, and others like it, were “hurting America”:

At yesterday’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear, Jon Stewart concluded with largely the same message, arguing that “if we amplify everything, we hear nothing.”  Despite the cancellation of Crossfire, the overall ratings for cable news networks have not decreased since 2004:

As somebody who has grown up with the rise of the internet and cable tv, I can’t pretend that I would like to go back to some earlier age despite downsides such as this.  Clearly, cable news networks will not shut down as long as people are watching them and people seem unlikely to broaden their political horizons as long as they can connect with similarly-minded individuals in anonymous online forums.

What remains to be seen is whether those at the extremes will continue to bring viewers to cable news or whether the public will tire of these stories as the millenials graduate from college and begin to exercise political control.  Twenty years from now, will we look at Jon Stewart’s remarks and the hundreds of thousands of people who showed up in Washington as a sign that sanity was indeed around the corner or will we still be wishing for sanity’s return?

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Every time I see a link to something from Roger Ebert’s blog I think that I need to read it more often.  A link to a recent post is no different.  In the post, Ebert discusses Bill O’Reilly and the ramifications that those like him have for cultural discourse in the US.  A few highlights:

I am not interested in discussing O’Reilly’s politics here. That would open a hornet’s nest. I am more concerned about the danger he and others like him represent to a civil and peaceful society. He sets a harmful example of acceptable public behavior. He has been an influence on the most worrying trend in the field of news: The polarization of opinion, the elevation of emotional temperature, the predictability of two of the leading cable news channels. A majority of cable news viewers now get their news slanted one way or the other by angry men. O’Reilly is not the worst offender. That would be Glenn Beck. Keith Olbermann is gaining ground. Rachel Maddow provides an admirable example for the boys of firm, passionate outrage, and is more effective for not shouting.

O’Reilly represents a worrisome attention shift in the minds of Americans. More and more of us are not interested in substance. The nation has cut back on reading. Most eighth graders can’t read a newspaper. A sizable percentage of the population doesn’t watch television news at all. They want entertainment, or “news” that is entertainment. Many of us grew up in the world where most people read a daily paper and watched network and local newscasts. “All news” radio stations and TV channels were undreamed-of. News was a destination, not a generic commodity. Journalists, the good ones anyway, had ethical standards.

Obviously, change happens for good and bad and I am not going to pretend that the cultural discourse of ten years ago represented the gold standard for all of history.  Still, the fact that so many people watch shows like these makes me fear for a future straight out of Idiocracy (which has been airing on Comedy Central lately):

At least we still have Jon Stewart:

*For the first time in a while, today’s post has a soundtrack.

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Loss of liberty

You may have noticed that since Obama took office some have cried that we are one step away from a totalitarian regime in which we have neither liberty nor freedom.  Some have even decided to go Galt, curtailing their incomes to stick it to the taxman.  Noted pundit J. Stewart examines the allegations below.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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